State of the Union addresses are not historically memorable speeches. But they aren't always as boring, self-serving, and predictable as last night's harangue by the sitting President.
Was it just me, or did everyone else in the chamber seem like they would liked to have been somewhere else? Mr. Obama, duly chastened by the electorate last fall, was at his bi-partisan, America-first best, promising to lead initiatives to "win the future" for America in the areas of innovation, education, structural and infrastructural renewal, debt reduction, foreign policy, and eliminating government waste. He saluted the troops, tipped his hat to a few heroes-in-attendance, and asked the blessing of God on the country.
The essence of what the President promised last night was that he intends to seek out new audiences in which to "invest" government money for the sake of sparking an innovation revolution, providing better education for our children, getting those shovel-ready projects off the dime, reducing corporate taxes, and encouraging the spread of democracy everywhere.
Most of the old entitlees will remain on the government dole, although there may have to be a little belt-tightening in order to make room for new faces at the public trough.
Essentially, the President was looking for votes to buy for his re-election in 2012. Every small business owner, construction worker, inventor, teacher, member of the armed forces, and kid in college will be lining up to receive from the government the "investment" to which, the President assured us, they are all entitled - except the oil companies and banks, of course.
This speech announced the President's re-election strategy: buy as many new voters as you can in the name of helping America win the future. Including American Muslims, who, the President assured us, are real Americans, too. In case we'd forgotten. And the children of illegal immigrants who are not to be held responsible for their parent's misdeeds, such as they may be.
It was a shameful, disappointing, disingenuous performance, and I can only hope the press will roundly excoriate the most self-centered, ego-maniacal president in my lifetime for his rhetorical opportunism.
America needs presidents who are strong on vision, character, courage, and executive skill. We've had enough of leaders who know how to use the language of American greatness to further their own political aspirations. Presumably, Mr. Obama still claims to be a Christian. But last night's rhetorical and political display was not what we should expect from one who understands that he holds his office not merely as a trust from the American people, but as a trust from God.
Mr. President, we expect more.
Additional related texts: Romans 13.1-4; Psalm 72; Matthew 16.24, 25
A conversation starter: "Don't you wish our nation's leaders could rise above partisan politics and mere self-interest to provide examples of genuine character, true courage, and skillful executive and administrative ability?"
T. M. Moore